Marketing Research Proposal

For the following proposal the issue of alcohol sponsorship being the key financial, dominator within events, such as music festivals, which are a popular phenomenon with the under 30’s today, will be researched.

The report will begin with a literature review which will help identify the key themes taken from secondary data sources. This will clearly indicate the area of research which this proposal intends to address. This will then follow on to the methodology that will be used to research the topic.

The proposal will indicate that both quantitative and qualitative methods will be used as to obtain a thorough view on the topic. The methods that will be carried out are believed to be methods that will attain the best information for the research.

Rationale

Throughout the years there has been a huge increase in the amount of music festivals taking place in Britain; however the scale of these festivals has increased dramatically, partly due to the growing popularity for live music.

“Over the last few years, live music has been the fastest growing sector of music.” (arts.guardian.co.uk)

This has lead to the introduction of corporate sponsorship, mainly alcohol companies, for all major music festivals.

Sponsorship is “a mutually beneficial relationship most often between a corporation and event or rights holder, for the purpose of enhancing a product or corporate brand”. (Skinner, 2003)

“An increasing number of big events worldwide are drawing in big money from sponsors. Beer companies are some of the most prominent.

This statement is proven with the increasing number of music festivals every year in Britain that sell out in a matter of minutes

Carling aside, Tennent’s sponsors T in the Park in Scotland, Heineken backs Benicassim in Spain and Oxegen in Ireland, and Miller sponsors South by South West in Texas.

After 2000 it switched its focus to music and now sells 5.7m barrels a year. That’s 52 pints a second.

Not only does the investment boost sales, but it also associates the brand with music’s “cool factor”.

The events are drawing in younger crowds who expect the biggest names in the music industry to be performing at their festival of choice, resulting in the festivals needing however the scale of these festivals has increased dramatically, partly due to the younger crowds that are attending them and expecting the biggest names in the music industry to be there. This has lead to the introduction of corporate sponsorship, mainly alcohol companies, for all major music festivals.

Sponsorship is “a mutually beneficial relationship most often between a corporation and event or rights holder, for the purpose of enhancing a product or corporate brand”. (Skinner, 2003)

These relationships are leading to music events being able to supply better utilities,

Research Objectives

The main research objectives that will be investigated are:

* The growing popularity of music festivals with alcohol sponsorship

* Effectiveness of the sponsorship on both the festivals and the alcohol companies

* Does this partnership fit into the views of people in today’s society

* In a society where “binge-drinking” is seen as a concern, especially within the younger generations, is it responsible for the festivals and alcohol companies to promote the idea of a weekend of drinking

* Does the corporate sponsorship cause festivals to lose their identity

* Are the benefits that come from having alcohol sponsorship, what the festival goer’s want

Research Design

Methodology choice and justification

There are many methods of research that could be carried out on this particular topic, such as; in-depth interviews, projective techniques, observation and so on.

However, the methods that will be carried out, with the set research objectives in mind, are firstly focus groups. Focus groups are a popular method used to generate a number of different opinions that may not appear using any other method.

“Enable(s) people to reveal true feelings, anxieties, frustrations and express views in their own words” (blackboard.gcal)

As focus groups are free-flowing interviews that do not hold a set structure and allows for a flexible format, it is believed that this method will help gather more insight into the opinions that people hold on the topic, as each interview will be unique. It is also an effective and inexpensive method.

Each focus group will be organised to take place in Universities such as; Glasgow Caledonian University, Edinburgh University, Leeds University and Reading University. In each university there will be two focus groups carried out; one with those who have attended festivals and one with those who have not attended a music festival. This is seen to be an effective method as it will allow for different views on the topic from attendees and non attendees.

As music festival attendees are getting younger it is thought that a focus group should take place within a secondary schools such as; The High School of Glasgow. This is believed to be effective as it has been shown that “fifteen-year-olds in Britain are among Europe’s heaviest users of alcohol, cannabis and tobacco”. (bbc.co.uk)

The second method that will be carried out will be a survey. This is an inexpensive and quick method to carry out and helps avoid interviewer and observer bias.

There are four main methods that can be used; face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, mail surveys or Internet surveys. However, for the basis of this research; face-to-face interviews will be carried out, as it is believed that this method obtains higher response rates than the other methods as “seemingly the personal element in the contact makes refusal less likely” (Jobber et al. 2004) and allows for probing and total control of who completes the questionnaire.

The surveys will be carried out at T in the Park and the Carling weekend: Reading and Leeds. This is thought to be an effective method as each person interviewed will be in attendance at two of Britain’s most reputable alcohol sponsored festivals, therefore giving the opinions of actual attendees of the events.

Both methods are set out and aim to reveal whether or not in today’s society is it seen acceptable for music events to be promoted and sponsored by alcohol companies.

Sample Design

One of the integral parts of research design is deciding on the sample. Sampling is “systematically choosing a limited number of units, or sample, to represent the characteristics of a total population.” (Dibb et al. 2001)

When choosing a sample it is necessary to ensure that the “population consists of those people who actually possess the information sought by the survey” (blackboard.gcal).

There are two main methods of sample selection; probability sampling and non-probability sampling. For this research non-probability sampling will be used, therefore each participant, as long as they fit into the chosen sample method, are chosen at random. The sample method chosen is age, gender, those who go to music festivals, those who do not go to music festivals and occupation.

Chosen Methodology

Focus Groups

Within each focus group there will be a moderator and 6 participants taking part; which will be 3 males and 3 females. This size of group will allow for a free-flowing group discussion.

The participants will be supplied with tea and biscuits, supplied by the university (predetermined before arrival) and will be have the intent of the group explained to them before the discussion begins.

The role of the moderator is to have “a list of areas to cover within the topic but allows the group considerable freedom to discuss the issues that are important to them.” (Jobber et al. 2004) The moderator must ensure that the conversation stays focused on the topic in hand, this can be done by the use of, prepared, probing questions to steer the discussion in the correct direction. He/she must ensure that not one person dominates the discussion as to ensure to receive everyone’s thoughts and feeling on the issue.

The questions that will be asked within the first focus group with those who attend music festivals are:-

* What are their thoughts on music festivals being sponsored by alcohol companies?

* Do they think that corporate sponsorship causes music festivals to lose their intended identity?

* What do they look for from a festival?

* Do they think that the only way for festival organisers to meet the demands of those who attend festivals is to have alcohol sponsorship?

* Do they believe that alcohol sponsorship at such events advertises the idea of binge-drinking?

The second focus group carried out, with those who have not attended a music festival, will be asked:-

* What are their thoughts on music festivals?

* Dothey believe that the use of alcohol advertisement and sponsorship promotes binge-drinking?

* Do they think that promoting festivals with alcohol sponsorship is responsible of the companies it concerns?

Each of these questions may or may not be asked during the focus group, they are merely there to allow for probing when the discussion falls off course.

All focus groups will be video recorded and should aim to last for approximately 1 hour. From the focus group it is hoped that

Survey: Questionnaire

The questionnaire used will contain:-

* Pre-coded questions – This is where the respondent is required to choose from fixed responses.

* Open ended questions – This is where the respondent is free to answer the question as they please.

The questionnaire will contain a maximum of 12 questions, as it is intended to carry out the survey at the festivals, face-to-face, it is preferred that the interview does not take too long as not to be a burden on the respondent.

Some questions that will be asked in the survey will be:-

* Is this your first time to a music festival? Yes or No

* Is this your first time to this festival? Yes or No

* What made you choose this particular festival?

* Do you believe that the partnership of the music festival and the alcohol company promotes the idea of “binge-drinking”?

* What do you look for in a festival?

* Do you think it is necessary for the partnership to meet festival attendee’s demands?

* Do you think that the partnership with the alcohol company has caused the festival to loose its image?

With the survey it is intended to gather the views from those who the promotion and festivals are aimed at. It will allow us to see if those who attend the festivals believe the partnership to be a necessity for the success of the festival.

Time and Costs

The focus groups are intended to take place before all universities break-up for the summer break. This will be arranged to take place before exam time. Therefore; the focus groups will be carried out between weeks commencing the 16 April 2007 until week ending the 27th April 2007.

The costs that will be involved are:-

* Travel expenses to each of the universities and schools

* Accommodation when the moderator is in Leeds and Reading. When in Edinburgh moderator will be expected to travel there and back in the same day.

The surveys will take place during the times of the festivals; therefore the survey taking place at T in the Park will be carried out on the last day of the festival, 8 July 2007. It is believed that carrying the survey out on the last day will allow all participants to have a better understanding of the festival after being in attendance for a whole weekend and therefore may provide us with more in-depth answers.

In the case of the Carling Weekend: Reading and Leeds, they run on the same day therefore at the Reading Festival the survey will take place on the second last day of the festival, 25 August 2007, which is still believed to give an insightful view from the participants. Survey will be carried out on the last day of the Leeds festival, 26 August 2007.

The costs that will be involved are:-

* Travel expenses

* Cost of tickets for festivals

* Structure of the questionnaire

* Accommodation

All in all the timescale for the research will be 5 months. In this time it is thought that the valuable and in-depth information will be gathered as to meet the set research objectives.